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It is not uncommon to see an athlete wearing a cap during a postgame press conference. It is uncommon for the hat to feature a harness racing logo. But perhaps not for long. Max Siegelman, a social media entrepreneur who is the son of trainer Robbie Siegelman, has created a line of sportswear centered around the family's Siegelman Stable design. The line features crewnecks, caps, and a tote and a portion of proceeds goes to support equine therapy programs for military veterans, nurses, and doctors with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Tim Hardaway Jr. sported a Siegelman Stable cap during his press conference following the Dallas Mavericks Game 4 playoff win over the Los Angeles Clippers last month. Siegelman has cultivated a network of athletes, musicians, and celebrities through his work as a social media collaborator and marketer. "This kind of just happened, not randomly, but I had some more free time because I wasn't traveling for work as much the last five or six months," Siegelman said. "My dad has had his own stable since the '80s and any time I wore one of the original Siegelman Stable pieces that I have, which he designed before I was born, I got asked where someone could buy it or if they would ever be released again. Finally, I just kind of ran with it." Siegelman wanted to not only design his own line of sportswear but honor the family's tradition of helping those in need. His father has received numerous awards for his philanthropic efforts, beginning with the Harness Horse Youth Foundation and continuing with his "Hands On" equine program for underprivileged inner-city teenagers, his "Horses with Hearts" project for children undergoing cancer treatment, and his work with equine therapy programs. "Career wise I do a lot of social media and marketing, kind of like experiential marketing, for different celebrities, music artists and athletes," Siegelman said. "What I do varies, whether it's trying to sell their merch or trying to get their music out in fun and creative ways. "Taking something with your own name on it, a family brand, is definitely a lot more fun and I wanted to keep to the brand values. My dad has been successful in harness racing as a trainer but has always prioritized giving back to the community. So as much as we want to create great pieces that the public wants to wear every day, we also want to make sure that people know the story and that there is a cause, there is a purpose, and that a portion of the proceeds goes toward these types of programs and organizations. "Our first program to support nurses and doctors that was paid for by Siegelman Stable sales was in partnership with HorseAbility for Northwell Health in Huntington, Long Island. Being the first event we organized, it was a very special milestone for me." Siegelman started his own social media company after college and soon thereafter met rapper LL Cool J through a trainer at the gym where they both worked out. LL Cool J became a partner in the business, which was invaluable to Siegelman. "Working with LL for about three or four years, I met a ton of people, networked and continued to build those relationships. It's been great to see the outpouring of support for this venture from the network of people I've worked with in the past and present. "At the end of the day we want to create a line of pieces that many will love and at the same time let our customers know that they are contributing to a good cause in the process." For more on the Siegelman Stable, visit its website here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Hightstown, NJ — Maple Leaf Trot winner Atlanta vaulted back into the top 10 in this week’s harness racing  Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, landing at No. 7 in the rankings. Atlanta was just outside the top 10 last week but added 101 points this week to make her big move. Ramona Hill, who won a qualifier Saturday at The Meadowlands, remained No. 1 for the third consecutive week. Tall Dark Stranger (idle) stayed at No. 2 and was followed by Maple Leaf third-place finisher Gimpanzee, who held a one-point edge over undefeated Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion Party Girl Hill. Completing the top five was Shartin N (idle). Goodtimes Stakes winner Ready For Moni also moved up in this week’s rankings, going from eighth to sixth. Rounding out the top 10 were Sorella (idle) at No. 8, followed by Kentucky Sire Stakes leg winner Reflect With Me, and Maple Leaf fifth-place finisher Manchego. The Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll does not determine Horse of the Year. The members of the U.S. Harness Writers Association vote on all Dan Patch Award division winners plus Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year. Rankings based on the votes of harness racing media representatives on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 9 – 9/8/2020 Rank Name (First Votes) A/G/S Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Ramona Hill (22) 3tf 5-4-0-1 $731,535 334 1 2 Tall Dark Stranger (13) 3pc 7-6-0-0 $879,131 323 2 3 Gimpanzee 4th 7-5-1-1 $643,464 231 3 4 Party Girl Hill 3pf 9-9-0-0 $482,181 230 5 5 Shartin N 7pm 6-5-1-0 $282,519 206 4 6 Ready For Moni 3tc 6-5-1-0 $575,670 136 8 7 Atlanta 5tm 7-3-2-0 $414,564 120 — 8 Sorella 3tf 7-5-0-0 $407,004 115 6 9 Reflect With Me 3pf 5-5-0-0 $213,630 62 9 10 Manchego 5tm 8-4-1-2 $276,201 57 7 ALSO: Captain Corey 25; Macho Martini 13; Tattoo Artist 11; Action Uncle 7; Century Farroh, Darlene Hanover, Southwind Tyrion 6; American Courage, Guinevere Hall 5; Bettor’s Wish, Ocean Rock, Papi Rob Hanover 4; Donna Soprano, Perfect Sting 3; Back Of The Neck, Caviart Audrey, Little Rocket Man, Warrawee Vital 2; Dorsoduro Hanover 1. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

As trainer Marcus Melander prepared In Range for his rookie season, he was uncertain what he had in the 2-year-old trotter. The colt was a good-looking $185,000 yearling buy from a successful harness racing family but did not stand out among Melander's other horses. But when it came time to race, In Range went from indifferent to inspired. He has four wins and a second in five starts as he heads to Saturday's (Sept. 5) $253,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship for 2-year-old male trotters at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. In Range and driver Tim Tetrick are 3-1 on the morning line, the second choice behind the Ake Svanstedt-trained entry of Captain Corey and Fly Light at 2-1. Captain Corey, undefeated in three races this season, and In Range will be meeting for the first time. "It's not going to be easy to beat Captain Corey, but I don't feel defeated before the race," Melander said. "I'm very confident in my horse and hope he can step up a little more. But it's a good field, it's not just Captain Corey in there. Captain Corey is going to be the favorite but they're 2-year-olds, you never know. It will be an interesting race." Pocono hosts the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championships and consolations for 2-year-olds, with a first-race post time of 12:30 p.m. (EDT) Saturday. Harrah's Philadelphia hosts the finals and consolations for 3-year-olds on Sunday, with first post at 12:40 p.m. (EDT). In Range is a son of Bar Hopping out of Ilia. He was purchased at last November's Standardbred Horse Sale and his family includes Grand Circuit stakes winner Long Tom, who was trained by Melander, and state-bred stakes winner Tight Lines. "It's a good family and he's a good-looking horse," said Melander, who trains In Range for owners AMG Stable Inc., Kenneth Kjellgren, Tomas Hans Asell, and Rick Wahlstedt. "We really liked him." In Range started his career with a win in a division of the Pennsylvania All-Stars before back-to-back scores in preliminary legs of the sire stakes. He finished second to Fly Light in a sire stakes division at The Meadows, where he was third in a 1:00.1 half and unable to overtake the winner despite a :27.1 final quarter, but bounced back to defeat Fly Light in a sire stakes split at Pocono. "Honestly, he didn't feel like a horse that would win four out of five," Melander said. "He never had a bad training day, he did exactly what he was supposed to do, but he's a really laidback and lazy horse. I didn't really know what to expect. He never did anything wrong at home, there were just a couple other ones that shined more than he did. "He didn't really step up until we brought him to The Meadowlands to qualify. Since then, he's been completely different on the racetrack. He's still lazy at home but on the racetrack he's all business." In Range, whose laidback demeanor is the only trait he shares with three-quarter brother Long Tom, won his most recent outing in gate-to-wire fashion after racing from primarily off the pace in his earlier starts. All four of his victories have come by a minimum of one length. "He's so handy," Melander said. "He doesn't waste energy on other stuff. He knows what he's doing and he's perfect in hand for Tim. He's very easy to work with and be around. "Tim has been doing a good job with him, letting him come from off the pace and teaching him. The last time, it was time for him to try to leave, and he was really good out there. He's definitely been learning. Tim has been prepping him good. "He's a really nice horse. I can't say one bad thing about him." The favorites in the remaining Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championships for 2-year-olds are male pacer Southwind Gendry, female trotter Flawless Country, and female pacer Grace Hill. For Saturday's complete Pocono entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

There is no question Goshen Historic Track is special to Harry Landy. He first visited the upstate New York oval at the age of 9 as a participant in the Harness Racing Youth League. Five years later, Landy won his driving debut in a matinee race at Historic Track and over the next two years he collected 10 more matinee triumphs there. In 2013, Landy enjoyed an unforgettable day at Historic Track, driving Useful Hanover to victory in a Landmark Stakes for his first Grand Circuit triumph. Useful Hanover, making his career debut, overcame a 15-length deficit to beat Stevensville, who in his previous start won a division of the Pennsylvania All-Stars. On Sunday, the 28-year-old Landy will return to Historic Track for another Landmark Stakes, this time with 3-year-old filly pacer Chuppah On. "I always support Goshen; I love it," Landy said. "Every year I look forward to hopefully having a horse to go there and try to win a race. There is a lot of history there and it's really cool to win a race there. It's a special place." Sunday's Landmark Stakes were originally scheduled in July as part of harness racing's Hall of Fame weekend in Goshen. Racing at Historic Track and the Hall of Fame inductions at the adjacent Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame were postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hall of Fame inductions for the class of 2020 will take place in July 2021. Five Landmark Stakes and eight New York Sire Stakes County Fair finals will be contested Sunday. No spectators other than owners with reservations will be allowed at Historic Track, but the races will be live streamed beginning with the pre-show at 11 a.m. (EDT). First-race post time is Noon, with the Landmark Stakes topping the card. The link to the live stream can be found Sunday morning at and Landy has cut down on driving over the past several years to focus on training, but he will drive Chuppah On and always looks forward to driving at Historic Track. His win with Useful Hanover, a horse he co-owned with trainer Blake MacIntosh, seven years ago ranks as a top moment in his career. "At no point going to Goshen did I think I was going to win," Landy said. "Stevensville was much the best. If it were a betting race, he would have been like 1-9 and I would have been 300-1 or some crazy number. "Down the lane, I was like, I'm going to catch him. It was cool. If I had to think of one of the coolest races I've won, it's that one." Chuppah On is a homebred daughter of Art Major out of Bell On Wheels. She is trained by Landy, who also trained and drove Bell On Wheels during her final three seasons on the racetrack. She was Saratoga's Pacing Mare of the Year in 2013. "Bell On Wheels was the first good mare that I had," Landy said. "She was an unbelievable horse. I'm really excited about all of her babies." Chuppah On has won five of 15 career races, with four of her victories coming on half-mile ovals. Last year she was fourth-placed-third in the Landmark Stakes for 2-year-old filly pacers at half-mile Historic Track. "She's coming into it real strong, she's feeling good, and she's the right kind of horse to win at Goshen," Landy said. "She loves to pass horses. If I could work out a good trip, that would be pretty cool. I think she's got a good chance. I'm really looking forward to it." For Sunday's complete entries at Historic Track, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA 

Over the past several years, harness racing driver Todd McCarthy contemplated leaving his native Australia to continue his career in North America. Watching his brother Andy win four Breeders Crown trophies last October at Woodbine Mohawk Park helped convince McCarthy to do it in 2020. The global coronavirus pandemic put his plans on hold for several months, but McCarthy finally was able to complete his move last week. And the 27-year-old wasted little time in finding the winner's circle, posting five victories in his first 28 starts. "I've always wanted to come, it was just a matter of time when I was going to be able to make the move," McCarthy said. "Probably after the Breeders Crown last year I started putting a few plans in place to make the move. That sort of made me think that this is the place to be. That definitely was motivating. "Initially, I wanted to come in March, early April, but (the pandemic) slowed things down. I was fortunate enough to be able to get over last week and it's all worked out. I've really enjoyed it at this stage. I've got a visa that allows me to stay for some time, so I'm planning on sticking around for quite a while." McCarthy's father, John, is a highly regarded trainer in Australia and brothers Luke and Andy are top drivers. Luke spent part of 2009 in North America and is best remembered for driving Muscle Hill to victory in the World Trotting Derby. Andy moved to the U.S. in 2007 and has won more than 2,500 races, including August's Hambletonian with Ramona Hill. Todd's accomplishments Down Under included winning the 2016 Australasian Young Drivers Championship and multiple New South Wales state and metropolitan premiership driving titles. He represented Australia at the 2019 World Driving Championship and counts the Inter Dominion as his top victory. "I think I'm most proud of the consistency," said McCarthy, who started driving in 2010. "I've had a lot of great support from trainers and that's something I'm proud of as well. My last couple seasons Down Under have been fantastic as far as the Grand Circuit goes, winning a lot of races. That's been pretty cool. "The timing (for this move) was perfect for me." McCarthy earned his first triumph in the U.S. in his third start and added four more victories in his next 25 races. He notched his first stakes triumph with Marloe Hanover in a division of the Pennsylvania All-Stars. "I've been overwhelmed by the support, that people have been willing to put me down and give me a shot," McCarthy said. "I can't thank all the trainers enough for that. It's been fantastic. "I've met so many people this first week, even though COVID has made things a little difficult. It's a weird time to be meeting people and making new relationships because you don't get to see everyone's face. That's been a little bit tricky. I've joked around that once we take our masks off, I probably won't recognize people." Adjusting to new horses and new drivers are McCarthy's biggest challenges. "I've been watching for a long time, but you've got to be here and driving in races to really pick that up," McCarthy said. "Back home, you sort of know most horses and have an idea how they race. Over here, I've had to start from scratch. "I find myself watching a lot of replays and reading a lot of programs. I'm doing my very best to educate myself. Each time I go out there, I've got as much knowledge as I can about the race and the horses in it and how I think the race is going to go." Following in Andy's ever-growing footsteps might seem daunting, but Todd is grateful for his brother's support. "If anything, he's made it easier for me; he's done all the hard yards," he said. "He's thrown a few contacts my way and gotten me a little bit of work. I've got to give Andy a huge shout out there. He's given me pointers on what to do and not to do. He's pointed me in the right direction, that's for sure." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA 

Guardian Angel AS will attempt to become only the third horse in three decades to win the Maple Leaf Trot in consecutive years when he faces nine foes in Saturday's (Sept. 5) C$560,000 event for older trotters at Woodbine Mohawk Park in Ontario. A 6-year-old stallion, Guardian Angel AS heads to the Maple Leaf off a track-record 1:50.4 victory in the Crawford Farms Open Trot on Aug. 16 at Tioga Downs. For his career, he has won 25 of 61 races and $1.43 million for trainer Anette Lorentzon and owners ACL Stuteri AB and Kjell Johansson. In the Crawford, Guardian Angel AS handed the sport's then No. 1-ranked horse, Gimpanzee, his first loss of the season. A week earlier, Guardian Angel AS was in contention for the lead in the John Cashman Memorial at The Meadowlands but went off stride in the stretch and finished eighth. "I honestly said (the Crawford) was our race to lose when I saw the draw," Lorentzon said. "He raced really good at The Meadowlands and I thought he would have won or at worst been second when he made the break. He wanted to go a little bit too much, I believe, so when he got in the open in the stretch that's why he made a break. "I don't want to say too much because then he might do it again, but he usually never makes breaks. It was unlucky that he did it there. That stinks, but he raced really good at Tioga. He came out of that race really good and he feels really good." Guardian Angel AS, a son of Archangel-Provide AS bred by ACL Stuteri AB, has won two of five starts this year including the June 20 preferred at The Meadowlands in a career-best 1:50.1. He got sick in July and spent a little more than a month away from the races prior to the Cashman. "We wanted to give him some time and it looks like it's paid off so far," Lorentzon said. The Maple Leaf Trot is part of a Saturday stakes card at Mohawk that also includes the C$540,000 Canadian Pacing Derby for older pacers, C$215,000 Goodtimes Stakes for 3-year-old trotters, and two divisions of the Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old pacers. Racing begins at 7:20 p.m. (EDT). Last year, Guardian Angel AS won the Maple Leaf with a Canadian-record-equaling 1:50.4 mile. His rivals this year include five horses from that race: runner-up Atlanta, third-place Marion Marauder, fourth-place Crystal Fashion, sixth-place Run Director, and seventh-place Manchego. Atlanta and Manchego both are 5-year-old mares. Four-year-old Gimpanzee, who has won five of six races this season, also is among this year's field, starting from post nine, which is the outermost spot on the gate. Completing the lineup are Soul Strong, Lindy The Great, and Marseille. "It's a very tough race," Lorentzon said. "It's all top horses and you can't count anyone out. It's all how the horses are that day, the trips; there's a lot that plays into it. I'm just hoping for a lot of racing luck and that he is in good form. That's all you can hope for." Jody Jamieson will drive Guardian Angel AS, subbing for regular pilot Tim Tetrick because of pandemic-related international travel restrictions. Guardian Angel AS will leave from post three. "I'm very happy with the draw," said Lorentzon, who also will remain in the U.S. for the race. "I wish we could go up there with him ourselves, but it is what it is. At least we are racing. Jody knows how to drive horses, so I'm not worried about that. I'm sure he's going to do a great job." The last horse to win the Maple Leaf in consecutive years was San Pail, who won three in a row from 2009 through 2011. The only other horse to accomplish the feat since 1990 was Mr Muscleman in 2004 and 2005. "Winning last year meant a lot," said the 37-year-old Lorentzon, who set career highs with 160 victories and $2.98 million in purses in 2019. "It's the biggest race that we've won. I spent a lot of time in Canada before and during the summertime and it's a huge race. I was super excited." For Saturday's complete Mohawk entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Hightstown, NJ — Harness racing trotting filly Ramona Hill held on to the No. 1 spot in this week’s Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, but only one first-place vote and one point separate her from No. 2 Tall Dark Stranger. Ramona Hill was idle last week while Tall Dark Stranger won the Pepsi North America Cup. Gimpanzee, who was idle, slid to third in an exchange of places with Tall Dark Stranger. Idle Shartin N and Fan Hanover winner Party Girl Hill rounded out the top five. Party Girl Hill was seventh last week. Also seeing improved positions this week were Casual Breeze division winner Sorella (No. 6) and Goodtimes Stakes elimination winner Ready For Moni (No. 8). The remaining horses in the top 10 — Manchego, Reflect With Me, and Bettor’s Wish — were idle last week. The Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll does not determine Horse of the Year. The members of the U.S. Harness Writers Association vote on all Dan Patch Award division winners plus Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year. Rankings based on the votes of harness racing media representatives on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 8 – 9/1/2020 Rank Name (First Votes) A/G/S Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Ramona Hill (16) 3tf 5-4-0-1 $731,535 324 1 2 Tall Dark Stranger (15) 3pc 7-6-0-0 $879,131 323 3 3 Gimpanzee (4) 4th 6-5-1-0 $592,392 281 2 4 Shartin N 7pm 6-5-1-0 $282,519 227 4 5 Party Girl Hill 3pf 8-8-0-0 $355,681 189 7 6 Sorella 3tf 7-5-0-0 $407,004 137 8 7 Manchego 5tm 7-4-1-2 $254,921 117 5 8 Ready For Moni 3tc 5-4-1-0 $493,970 98 10 9 Reflect With Me 3pf 4-4-0-0 $193,630 92 6 10 Bettor’s Wish 4ph 6-2-1-2 $208,982 26 — ALSO: Atlanta 19; American Courage, Century Farroh, Macho Martini 10; Caviart Audrey, Tattoo Artist 8; Action Uncle 6; Captain Corey, Hey Livvy 5; Darlene Hanover, Papi Rob Hanover 4; Donna Soprano, Little Rocket Man, Ocean Rock, Perfect Sting 3; Back Of The Neck, Hurrikane Emperor, In Range, Warrawee Ubeaut 2; Guardian Angel AS, Love A Good Story 1. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

HP Royal Theo is a more easygoing horse this year, and harness racing trainer Ben Baillargeon is feeling more relaxed as well. A 3-year-old gelding trotter and returning O'Brien Award winner, HP Royal Theo has lost only once in his age group this season as he prepares for Saturday's C$215,000 Goodtimes Stakes final at Woodbine Mohawk Park. HP Royal Theo won his Goodtimes elimination last week from post nine, besting Capricornus by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:53.1. For the season, HP Royal Theo has won four of seven starts, finished second once, and earned $101,948. His only setback against 3-year-olds came Aug. 19 in an Ontario Sire Stakes Gold event at Grand River Raceway. HP Royal Theo went off stride after the start, but Baillargeon wrote off the miscue to circumstance. "I'm not even worried about that," Baillargeon said. "He got squeezed a little bit in the first turn and made a break but besides that he's been great. I just put a line through that race and we go forward, that's all." HP Royal Theo made three breaks in nine races last year but finished worse than second only once in the remaining six starts. He won three times and earned $214,794. "He's more mature this year," Baillargeon said. "He does his work and he relaxes. Last year he had an issue with tying up and this year he's been nothing but good.' HP Royal Theo, by Royalty For Life out of Mika's Mazurka, is owned by breeder Claude Hamel and Michel Damphousse. Last year, he became Canada's fastest ever 2-year-old gelding trotter, winning in 1:54.2 at Mohawk Park. This season, he equaled the Canadian record for a 3-year-old gelding on a five-eighths-mile oval, winning in 1:54.1 at Georgian Downs. "He's very tough," Baillargeon said. "He likes to race, and he doesn't want to get beat. He's a gritty horse. When he's in to go, he will give you 120 percent. He will give you more than he has in a race, that's what is good about him." HP Royal Theo will start Saturday's Goodtimes from post four with regular driver Louis Roy. Ready For Moni, who won the other Goodtimes elimination by three-quarters of a length over Play Trix On Me in 1:51.4, starts from post five with Yannick Gingras driving for Nancy Takter. Ready For Moni has lost only once in five races this year, finishing second in the Hambletonian. "This will be a good test this week," Baillargeon said. "Last week (HP Royal Theo) won pretty handy from the nine hole. Ready For Moni looks like a good horse and Play Trix On Me raced very good last week. We'll see what happens." In addition to HP Royal Theo, Baillargeon sends out Hayek in the Goodtimes. The gelding finished third in the elimination won by Ready For Moni. One start earlier, he won his Ontario Sire Stakes division at Grand River in 1:53.3, the fastest time ever by a trotter on a half-mile track in Canada. "I didn't think last week was his best race," said Baillargeon, who is a part of a group that purchased Hayek in June. "The week before at Grand River, he tore the track apart. I thought last week he could have been a little dull. Hopefully, he will bounce back this week. He's got enough speed to go." Saturday's card at Mohawk also includes the Maple Leaf Trot for older trotters, Canadian Pacing Derby for older pacers, and Simcoe Stakes divisions for 3-year-old male pacers. Complete entries will be available Tuesday afternoon. For Goodtimes entries and post positions, click here. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager  

MILTON, August 28, 2020 - It might be uncommon for a harness racing driver to pick up a horse for a million-dollar final and win the race, but Jody Jamieson knows it is possible. And he hopes history repeats itself Saturday when he drives Captain Kirk in the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup for 3-year-old male pacers at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Captain Kirk won his North America Cup elimination last weekend by three-quarters of a length over Allywag Hanover in 1:49.3 with Bob McClure in the sulky for trainer Tony Alagna. McClure will drive 2019 Ontario Sire Stakes champion Tattoo Artist in the final, presenting Jamieson the opportunity to pick up Captain Kirk. Fourteen years ago, Jamieson picked up the drive behind Yankee Skyscaper for the million-dollar Metro Pace final. John Campbell drove Yankee Skyscaper to a second-place finish in his elimination but opted for elim winner Artzina in the final. Jamieson won the race from post eight for trainer Chris Ryder and the Yankee Skyscaper Partners, a group that included some of the same owners of Captain Kirk. "It doesn't happen very often, but when it does, I'm glad that I'm the guy they tap on the shoulder to drive them," Jamieson said. "I was obviously thrilled to go with (Yankee Skyscaper), and I ended up winning, so it worked out really good." Captain Kirk is 3-1 on the North America Cup morning line, second choice behind 7-5 favorite Tall Dark Stranger. A son of Captaintreacherous out of Aria Hanover, Captain Kirk has won two of his last three starts, including the Tompkins-Geers Stakes on Aug. 1 at The Meadowlands, where the field included Tall Dark Stranger and Allywag Hanover. He finished third in the Cane Pace, behind Tall Dark Stranger and stablemate and Cup finalist Capt Midnight. Jamieson will be driving Captain Kirk for the first time on Saturday. Jody Jamieson "There are more zeros (in the purse) for sure, but it's just another race and I have to prepare the same way I always prepare," Jamieson said. "You want to make sure you know the horses, have a plan going in, and be willing to change the plan when the gate folds. "I've run the race over in my head a few times already. There are multiple scenarios. One thing for sure, I think Tattoo Artist will be going forward and I think Allywag Hanover will be going forward, so they're going to mix it up a little bit. We'll see how that plays out." Jamieson is a two-time winner of the North America Cup, capturing the event with Tell All in 2007 and Up The Credit in 2011. Only John Campbell, with a record six Cup victories, and Mike Lachance, with three, have won the race more than twice. "With any of these big races, it's so nice to be in them let alone win them," said Jamieson, who has been Canada's Driver of the Year on three occasions. "I wasn't in the race last year, so I'm happy to be in it with a horse that has a chance this year. It would be nice to get three, for sure. This is one of the ones you want to win each time." Captain Kirk is one of three horses in the race from Alagna's stable. Capt Midnight, who finished second by a head to Tall Dark Stranger in his elimination, is 9-2 on the morning line and Captain Barbossa, who was fourth in the same elim, one length behind the winner, is 15-1. Capt Midnight will start from post five with Doug McNair in the sulky while Captain Barbossa leaves from post nine with James MacDonald. MacDonald was injured in a racing accident Aug. 1 and returned to action last week. "When I got hurt, I thought there was no chance I would make it back in time," said MacDonald, who suffered a concussion and broken collarbone. "I worked hard with my doctors and they were able to get me back. I'm just happy to be in the race. MacDonald picked up the drive behind Captain Barbossa from Louis Roy, who will drive Allywag Hanover in the final. It will be MacDonald's first time driving the horse. The son of Captaintreacherous-Swinging Beauty has won three of 22 lifetime starts and $180,256. "I'm going to watch some replays and get a feel for what he likes and I'll talk to Tony, obviously," MacDonald said. "I talked to Louis after the race last week, before I even knew I was driving him, and Louis was really pleased with him. He had lots of go; he came a wicked back half and never really had clear sailing. Louis was really high on him. I expect that with a good trip he'll give a good effort. "(Post nine) is just a starting spot. Hopefully, we can work something out. If the horse gets a trip, I think he's coming into the race in good form and Tony has always got his horses ready to go for the big money. I expect him to be very good." MacDonald is making his North America Cup debut. James MacDonald "This is as big as it gets in Canada," MacDonald said. "I was lucky enough to win the (Canadian Pacing) Derby last year but it doesn't get any bigger than the NA Cup. That's the goal when you drive horses, to win these big ones. This is it." Capt Midnight, by Captaintreacherous out of It Was Fascination, won multiple Grand Circuit stakes last year. For his career, he has seven victories in 17 starts and $392,338. "He might have surprised some people last week by almost beating Tall Dark Stranger, but he's a really good horse," McNair said. "He's just like driving a Cadillac. He's good gaited and versatile. You can do what you want with him, and when it's go time, he goes. He's a pleasure to drive." McNair, Canada's Driver of the Year in 2017, is seeking his first North America Cup trophy. "It's going to be a good race," McNair said. "I think there is going to be a lot of speed. There are a couple horses on the outside that they can't take off the gate if they have any shot of winning and there is a lot of speed from the inside too." Doug McNair This year's Pepsi North America Cup card features nine stakes races and purses totaling $2.4 million. The $400,000 Fan Hanover, $290,000 Roses Are Red, $220,000 Armbro Flight, $234,058 Nassagaweya (two divisions) and $214,645 Eternal Camnation (three divisions) make up the Cup undercard. The 37th Pepsi North America Cup has been carded as race 11 and has a post time of 10:43 p.m. (EDT). Fans can watch live coverage on TSN4 from 10-11. Free program pages for Saturday's card are available here. Racing begins at 6:30. Ken Weingartner - USTA Media

One morning a little more than five years ago, Merlie Schwartz was paging through the harness racing catalog for the 2015 Blooded Horse Winter Mixed Sale when a horse caught his eye. He looked to his wife Christina and said, "This is the one I want." The horse was 5-year-old female pacer Antigua Hanover. Schwartz paid a sales-topping $55,000 for the mare, who was a daughter of Somebeachsomewhere out of the Artsplace mare Appleonia-Art and a stakes-winner on the Pennsylvania circuit during her career. Schwartz, a breeder from Peru, Ind., added Antigua Hanover to his broodmare band. Two years after the purchase, she produced the best horse Schwartz ever bred. Originally named Swiss Rocket -- a nod to Schwartz's business, Swiss Builders -- he sold for $60,000 at the 2018 Hoosier Sale and was renamed Odds On Osiris. On Saturday, Odds On Osiris competes in the C$1 million North America Cup for 3-year-old male pacers at Woodbine Mohawk Park in Ontario. He is 10-1 on the morning line, starting from post 10 in the second tier for driver Sylvain Filion and trainer Melanie Wrenn. "I've been in this for about 20 years and this is the first one to come out like this," Schwartz said. "You always dream of it, but never know if it will ever happen. When it actually happens, it's pretty special. He's pretty awesome." Odds On Osiris, owned by Dana Parham's Odds On Racing, is a son of Rockin Image. He was Indiana's Pacer of the Year in 2019 after winning seven of 10 starts, including the Indiana Sire Stakes championship for 2-year-old male pacers and two Grand Circuit stakes. This year, Odds On Osiris has won two of five races, including the Carl Milstein Memorial. He finished third in his North America Cup elimination last week, beaten a half-length by Tall Dark Stranger, who is the final's morning-line favorite at 7-5. North America Cup elimination last week Odds On Osiris has finished off the board only once in 15 career starts and earned $504,955. "He's a well-bred horse, but you never know what you really have until they get to the races," Schwartz said. "He's got a big heart, that's for sure. It's exciting." Peter Wrenn has driven Odds On Osiris throughout his career, but turned over the lines to Filion for the North America Cup elimination and final because of international travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. "Pete is real good with horses, I'm really amazed with him," Schwartz said. "I watched him race as a 2-year-old and Pete took good care of him. That's helped him come back good as a 3-year-old so far. I think he's going to get better and better." Schwartz has a 24-acre farm, where he used to keep several stallions and a broodmare band that was as large as two dozen mares at one point. He no longer has any stallions and has cut back to four broodmares. "I do this on the sidelines," said Schwartz, who turns 61 next month. "I enjoy taking care of yearlings. I like to get them prepped and ready for the sales and hope they do well for the people that buy them. I like to take an interest in them when they're young, get them handled every day. I think that makes a world of difference. "It's a chore, and I like chores. It gets you away from your other stuff, the things you do every day, and gets your mind off it. It's relaxing." Schwartz got assistance from his sons before they were grown and had their own families and Christina plays a valuable role in the farm's success. "I couldn't have done all this without help," Schwartz said. "My boys helped me the best they could, and my wife takes care of the paperwork and staking. That's a lot of help to me. And she comes out to the barn and helps me with the weanlings. He added with a laugh, "They say the lazy one gets the help first; I must have been the lazy one." So, what attracted Schwartz to Antigua Hanover that morning five years ago? "I wanted to buy her based on her pedigree," Schwartz said. "She was racing real good when I bought her. People told me I should keep racing her, but that's not why I'm in business. I'm in business to breed mares. I think that (not continuing to race) helped her as a broodmare because she wasn't run down." He is looking forward to Odds On Osiris taking on North America's top horses the rest of the season. "He's sure been a pleasant surprise for us," Schwartz said. "You don't run across ones like him every day. He's a special horse." For Saturday's complete Mohawk entries, click here. Racing begins at 6:30 p.m. (EDT). by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Manchego and Atlanta are considered the sport's top trotting mares, each with a spot in harness racing's weekly top 10 rankings, but Plunge Blue Chip hopes to dive into the fray with a win in Saturday's C$220,000 Armbro Flight Stakes for older female trotters at Woodbine Mohawk Park in Ontario. Plunge Blue Chip is a 5-year-old, the same age as Manchego and Atlanta. They are three of the six female trotters in history to win a race faster than 1:50, with Plunge Blue Chip and Manchego the only two to do it more than once. Manchego was not entered in the Armbro Flight, but Atlanta will be there along with Plunge Blue Chip and six other mares. Atlanta won last year's Armbro Flight in 1:50.2, the fastest time ever on Canadian soil. Atlanta, trained by Ron Burke and driven by Yannick Gingras, is the 6-5 morning-line favorite from post four Saturday. Plunge Blue Chip, with Bob McClure at the lines for trainer Ake Svanstedt, is the 2-1 second choice from post three. The Armbro Flight is part of a Mohawk card that also includes the C$1 million North America Cup for 3-year-old male pacers, C$400,000 Fan Hanover for 3-year-old filly pacers, and C$290,000 Roses Are Red for pacing mares. Plunge Blue Chip was winless in her first three races this season but has since posted two wins and a second in three starts. She enters the Armbro Flight off a 1:51.3 win in the Joie De Vie Stakes at Tioga Downs, where she finished 1-1/4 lengths ahead of stablemate Felicityshagwell S and two lengths ahead of Manchego. Plunge Blue Chip winning the Joie De Vie Stakes at Tioga Downs "Her gait is better," Svanstedt said. "It was a little rough the first races but now she is much better and stronger. Everything is going well with her. She is as good as she can be." Plunge Blue Chip, a daughter of Muscle Mass out of Dunk The Donato, has won 21 of 44 career races and $1.37 million. She is owned by Ake Svanstedt Inc., breeder Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc., and Tomas Andersson. As a 3-year-old, Plunge Blue Chip won twice in 1:49.4. The mark tied for the season's fastest by a female trotter. "She can do everything," Svanstedt said. "She can leave fast, she never breaks, and she is strong. She is always fighting to the wire. "This is a nice group of mares (this year). I think she can be in the top." Felicityshagwell S, a 5-year-old in her first season of racing in North America, is 12-1 on the Armbro Flight morning line. Sylvain Filion will drive the mare for Svanstedt. Owned by Knutsson Trotting Inc., the daughter of Maharajah-Diaz Boko was a Group 2 race winner at age 2 in Sweden. She has a second and third in four starts this year. "She was good the last race, better than before," Svanstedt said. "I expect a good race from her too. She is getting better. She gets stronger for every race. Her last race was the best for her." Armbro Flight favorite Atlanta has won two of five races this year and finished second twice. For her career, she has won 22 of 44 starts and $2.11 million. She was the 2018 Trotter of the Year, when her accomplishments included beating the boys in the Hambletonian. She was the Dan Patch and O'Brien award winner for best older female trotter in 2019. For Saturday's complete Mohawk entries, click here. Racing begins at 6:30 p.m. (EDT). by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

August 25, 2020, After a slow start to the year, Stonebridge Soul shows signs of rounding into top form as she prepares for Saturday's (Aug. 29) C$290,000 Roses Are Red Stakes for older female pacers at Woodbine Mohawk Park in Ontario. The 4-year-old mare has hit the board in three consecutive harness racing starts, finishing second in last weekend's preferred for fillies and mares at Mohawk on the heels of a second in the Artiscape and third in the Lady Liberty. Stonebridge Soul will start the Roses Are Red from post eight. The nine-horse field also includes Dorothy Haughton Memorial winner and Lady Liberty runner-up Major Occasion A and Dan Patch Award winners Warrawee Ubeaut and Kissin In The Sand. The Roses Are Red is part of a Mohawk card that also includes the C$1 million North America Cup, C$400,000 Fan Hanover, and C$220,000 Armbro Flight. Last year, Stonebridge Soul's wins included the James M. Lynch Memorial and Mistletoe Shalee. In March, she was turned out for two months while racing was shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. She made her 2020 debut for trainer Chris Ryder in July. She is in the care of trainer Chantal Mitchell while in Canada. "We staked her pretty much to all the big races not really knowing what we'd have because she's a 4-year-old (competing against older horses)," said Craig Henderson of Henderson Farms, which shares ownership of Stonebridge Soul with Bob Mondillo. "She's hit her stride better than we ever imagined. Chris is so pleasantly surprised with how she's racing. She's well rested and just getting into top form. She's training great. We sent her up to Chantal and she does a great job for Chris. We're very excited. Fingers crossed. She'll be there, I think." Stonebridge Soul is winless in six races this season but started her year with the post-position blues, drawing post seven twice at Yonkers and post six at Harrah's Philadelphia. She again drew an unfavorable spot in the Roses Are Red but Henderson is hoping she can overcome it with her gate speed and finishing kick. "She loves to finish," Henderson said. "She finishes strong and never gives up. If she has a clear path from the top of the stretch, she'll close as well as anybody. "She's a great mare and I'm thrilled to have her. We couldn't be happier." For her career, Stonebridge Soul has won eight of 34 races and $674,206. Henderson has owned racehorses for 12 years. He was one of the owners of 2010 Dan Patch Award winner Put On A Show as well as stakes winner That's The Ticket. His pacer Bushwacker was retired recently after earning $743,808. His Henderson Farms ownership group is himself and several friends. "I really was trying to get people more interested in harness racing because I really enjoy it," Henderson said. "They're having fun."   by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Hightstown, NJ — Gimpanzee owned the top spot in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll for the first six weeks of the harness racing rankings but week seven brings a new No.1. Ramona Hill, who won the filly division of the Zweig Memorial last week for her fourth consecutive victory, received 21 first-place votes and 330 points to move from No. 2 to atop the ratings. Gimpanzee was idle. Tall Dark Stranger, who won his North America Cup elimination last week, remained No. 3 and was followed by Shartin N and Manchego, who were idle. Party Girl Hill, who won her Fan Hanover elim, made the biggest move in the top 10 as she jumped from 10th to seventh. Zweig Memorial Open winner Ready For Moni was the only newcomer to the top 10, at No. 10. The Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll does not determine Horse of the Year. The members of the U.S. Harness Writers Association vote on all Dan Patch Award division winners plus Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year. Rankings based on the votes of harness racing media representatives on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 7 – 8/25/2020 Rank Name (First Votes) A/G/S Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Ramona Hill (21) 3tf 5-4-0-1 $731,535 330 2 2 Gimpanzee (11) 4th 6-5-1-0 $592,392 307 1 3 Tall Dark Stranger (3) 3pc 6-5-0-0 $499,131 292 3 4 Shartin N 7pm 6-5-1-0 $282,519 236 4 5 Manchego 5tm 7-4-1-2 $254,921 160 5 6 Reflect With Me 3pf 4-4-0-0 $193,630 120 7 7 Party Girl Hill 3pf 7-7-0-0 $203,681 91 10 8 Sorella 3tf 6-4-0-0 $376,070 89 6 9 Atlanta 5tm 5-2-2-0 $200,092 72 8 10 Ready For Moni 3tc 4-3-1-0 $482,570 67 — ALSO: Bettor’s Wish 63; Century Farroh 13; Action Uncle 12; Darlene Hanover 10; Back Of The Neck, Bet On Becky 9; American Courage 8; Captain Corey, Tattoo Artist 6; Papi Rob Hanover 5; Dancin Lou 4; Little Rocket Man, Ocean Rock 3; Captain Kirk, Hurrikane Emperor, In Range, Macho Martini 2; Guardian Angel AS, Majestic Player A 1. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Hightstown, NJ — Thisbigdogwilfight did not enjoy practice, but when it was game time, he lived up to his name. The Illinois-bred harness racing pacer won 56 races during his nine-year career, earned nearly a million dollars, and was inducted into the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association Hall of Fame in 2013. A 17-year-old gelding, Thisbigdogwilfight died last week at the farm of longtime caretaker Sondra Brown and her husband, Mike. “For us, small-time people, he was the horse of a lifetime,” said Jim Eaton, who trained Thisbigdogwilfight throughout his career. “He was a character. That’s what made it so much fun. And he did enjoy racing. I don’t think you can win almost 60 races and not enjoy it.” Thisbigdogwilfight, a son of The Big Dog out of Vicky Varius who was known simply as Dog around Eaton’s stable, was a $6,000 yearling purchase by Phil Langley, who later partnered on the horse with Mike McNeely. Langley, a former president of the U.S. Trotting Association and racetrack executive, died in April. Thisbigdogwilfight was sold to Robert Silberberg in 2011 and raced for him the remainder of his career. “It was all Phil’s doing,” Eaton said about Dog’s purchase as a yearling. “When I looked at him as a baby, he was a nice-looking horse, but he was by The Big Dog, who had not been a very good sire. Phil bought him anyway. I can’t take much credit. “Phil always liked to have partners and he couldn’t find anyone to be partners with him. He kept asking me, but I already was partners with five other horses. That’s one of the many mistakes I’ve made in this business. If I remember right, Dog made more in a few weeks than those other five put together made in their lives.” Thisbigdogwilfight showed little interest in training but became a different horse as soon as he got behind the starting gate in a qualifier. One of Eaton’s favorite memories with the horse was winning an invitational at The Meadowlands in 2009. “When he was training down before he started racing, he was awful,” Eaton said. “He didn’t want to go. He didn’t care about training. Phil would watch and say we’ll keep him eligible to the fairs, maybe we can make some money out there with him. The first time we qualified, it was like turning on a light switch.” Eaton added with a laugh, “He’s probably cost me some money over the years because I’ve hung on to horses that are like him training down and you think they’re going to turn on a light switch and they never do. They don’t know where that switch is, I guess.” Once Thisbigdogwilfight flipped his switch, he became a consistent performer, primarily on the Illinois circuit. He set a world record at Maywood Park at age 4 in 2007 and in 2010 became only the third pacer in history at that time to win races with sub-1:50 miles in five consecutive years. “He still didn’t like to train, like he knew it was practice,” Eaton said. “But he had heart. I can’t tell you how many races he won first over. He’d win in (1):49 first over, when (1):49 wasn’t an everyday common thing like it is now. “Phil used to comment about it, there were so many races where it looked like he was going to be second, third, fourth and just those last few steps he would end up catching them. He never won very many races by open lengths. It was always very close. Dave Magee was the perfect driver for him. He would kind of let him do his thing and urge him right at the wire and he always seemed to find a way to get there.” Thisbigdogwilfight never won a race with a six-figure purse but was a force in the free-for-all and invitational ranks as well as state-bred stakes. Jim Eaton trained the pacer Thisbigdogwilfight throughout his career One of Eaton’s favorite memories with the horse was winning an invitational at The Meadowlands in 2009. “There are not many Illinois-breds that have won free-for-alls at the Meadowlands,” said Eaton, who was inducted into the Illinois Hall of Fame in 2011. “Probably one of the main reasons I ended up in the Hall of Fame was because of him.” Sondra Brown took care of Thisbigdogwilfight throughout his career, except for trips to the East Coast. After several weeks away, Dog would begin to pout. But upon his return home, he would know immediately when Brown arrived at the barn. “She would wear flip flops and then change shoes when she got there,” Eaton said. “He would hear those flip flops and go running to the front of his stall and start nickering. He knew that she was there. “He had a great personality and was pretty happy all the time. He really did nothing wrong. He had some races where maybe he wasn’t up to par, like any horse, but for the most part he was always ready to go. “I won’t have another one like him.” by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Frank M. Antonacci is more than happy with Ready For Moni as the colt heads to Friday's (Aug. 21) $330,000 Harry M. Zweig Memorial for harness racing 3-year-old trotters at Vernon Downs, and only a length separated Antonacci from being ecstatic. Ready For Moni finished second in the $1 million Hambletonian Stakes on Aug. 8 at The Meadowlands, where filly Ramona Hill captured the sport's top event for 3-year-old trotters with a stakes-record-equaling 1:50.1 performance. Ready For Moni, making only his third start of the season, was a length back in 1:50.2, a time that would have won 93 of the previous 94 editions of the Hambletonian. The Antonacci family, which bred and is among the owners of Ready For Moni, has won the Hambletonian five times and now finished second on seven occasions. Ironically, the family bred Ramona Hill's dam, Lock Down Lindy. "I jokingly said after the race that we got beat by our own recipe," Antonacci said. "But we're pretty proud of that, too. To see them first and second like that is pretty remarkable. "Only one thing could have happened that would have made (Ready For Moni's year) better, if we got to the finish line first in the Hambo. But what I like to see in a horserace is everybody gets their nose on the gate and there's really no excuses for anybody in the race and whatever happens, happens. "You saw two really top horses battle it out from the top of the lane and she won. She was great, and I thought he raced great. I look forward to seeing more of that." Ready For Moni, who is 2-for-3 this season and has won six of 11 lifetime races, is a son of French star Ready Cash out of Nothing But Moni. His grandam is the legendary Hall of Fame mare Moni Maker, who dazzled in North America and Europe while racing for the Antonacci family, David Reid, and trainer Jimmy Takter. Nancy Takter trains Ready For Moni, who wintered in Florida with the Antonacci family's Lindy Racing team in preparation for the campaign. In addition to the Antonaccis, the colt is owned by John Fielding, Herb Liverman, and Bud Hatfield. "I'm really happy about this horse for a lot of reasons," Antonacci said. "To have John Fielding and the rest of the partners, we've had great relationships for a lot of years, so to have a horse like this is fantastic. "To be back working as a team with the Takters and us having the horse in Florida, it was such a collaborative effort. Everybody that's been involved has been true professionals. I give a ton of credit to Domenico (Cecere) and our team down in Florida and Nancy and her team. There are a lot of egos in this game, like any sport or business, but everybody here has checked their egos at the door and are doing their best for the horse. It's good to see it pay off. "And the icing on the cake, I think my dad's initiative with bringing the French pedigrees into the sport again here over the last 10 years, to see it kind of culminate in these horses, and it seems year after year that's becoming a more successful formula, it's really rewarding for me to see that for my dad," Antonacci concluded, referring to his father Frank, aka Frank The Elder. Ready For Moni is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in the Zweig. He will start from post four with Matt Kakaley in the sulky (regular driver Yannick Gingras is in Canada). Hambletonian third-place-finisher Back Of The Neck is the 5-2 second choice from post one, with Scott Zeron driving for trainer Ake Svanstedt. "It will be exciting to see how he goes through the rest of the year," Antonacci said about Ready For Moni. "Obviously, he's fast. And when I spoke with Domenico over the winter, he always spoke about how efficient his gait is. He's very good gaited. "You talk about French pedigrees, and how they get better with time, to think he could mature even more is pretty exciting." Friday's card at Vernon also includes the $160,140 Zweig Memorial for 3-year-old filly trotters, where Ramona Hill is the 3-2 favorite over Hambletonian Oaks winner Sorella, who is 8-5. Racing begins at 3 p.m. (EDT). For complete entries for Friday's races at Vernon Downs, click this link. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager  

Party Girl Hill has given owner Tom Hill reason to celebrate. Unraced at age 2 because of a stress fracture, the 3-year-old female pacer is 6-for-6 in 2020 as she prepares for a Fan Hanover elimination on Saturday at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The Chris Ryder-trainee has won all but one start by at least 1-1/4 lengths, including an 11-3/4 length romp in her debut June 12 at The Meadowlands. She won her most recent race, a sire stakes division at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, by 4-1/2 lengths in 1:49. It was her third consecutive sub-1:50 win on a five-eighths-mile track and the fastest mile on a five-eighths oval by a 3-year-old filly pacer in four years, only two-fifths of a second off the world record. “I don’t know how fast she can go,” Hill said. “I don’t know where the bottom is. She’s a freak.” Hill bred Party Girl Hill, a daughter of Captaintreacherous out of Look Cheap. Party Girl Hill trained well as a 2-year-old but was injured just prior to qualifying. “There was no surgery, we just had to give her the time to heal,” Hill said. “She was training like an absolute monster. If we didn’t have to quit with her, there’s no doubt she would have been a top-class 2-year-old.” Hill, who lives in England and will turn 70 next month, is no stranger to good horses. He owned two-time O’Brien Award winning trotter Caprice Hill, Breeders Crown champion Racing Hill, millionaire Western Silk, and North America Cup and Breeders Crown runner-up Art Colony. But Party Girl Hill is something different. “She’s the best horse I’ve ever been fortunate enough to own,” Hill said. “She’s just in a different sphere. We knew last year she was a tremendously fast horse, and a good horse. If I said I knew she would be as good as she is, I’d be telling you lies, but she had blistering speed and she was intelligent. Whatever you want to do, she will do it. “Chris says she’s easy on herself, nothing bothers her. She travels good, she sleeps good, she eats good, and after a race you wouldn’t think she had one. She can race from the front, she can do it from behind, she can get parked out; it doesn’t matter. She’s the full package. That’s what makes a champion, when you get all those things coming together.” Party Girl Hill faces seven rivals Saturday in the second of two Fan Hanover eliminations. Doug McNair is listed to drive the filly, who will start from post two. The top-five finishers from each elim will advance to the final. Party Girl Hill had been entered previously to race Thursday in a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes division at Harrah’s Philadelphia, but will be scratched. “I’m just hoping she carries on and stays healthy,” Hill said. “When she’s on her game, I don’t think there is a 3-year-old filly that can go with her. If she stays healthy, I think she can be a big contender for Horse of the Year. She’s just a special horse. She’s a gift from God.” by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

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